Designing Mindfulness
A Manifesto for Mindfulness Everywhere around making technology which takes care of the people who use it.

 

 

Mindfulness Everywhere is a creative studio working at the intersection of design, technology, and meditation, and are the producers of Kara, Sleepfulness, and Buddhify.  An exercise in Cathedral Thinking, this project takes the principles of mindfulness, and explores the possibility of designing these into not only explicit mindfulness products, but all consumer-facing attentional technology.

Embedding ourselves within the Mindfulness Everywhere studio, we worked with them to produce the manifesto Designing Mindfulness, supplementing the studio's already existing knowledge and insight with product case studies and expert interviews, before synthesising key insights into a series of principles and communicative artefacts, ultimately packaged in the form of a design manifesto.

 

 

Currently the popular rhetoric around ‘the digital detox’ and 'unplugging’, promotes an immature assumption that mindfulness and technology are mutually exclusive. Challenging this assumption, Designing Mindfulness looks to the design of digital products, exploring the ways in which design is used to create unhealthy dependencies, negative behaviours, and addictive loops, and offers a series of alternative design principles to the socially minded tech business of the future. 

Furthermore this project explores the business viability of such a proposal, looking to recent events such as the LinkedIn UX lawsuit, and examining the relationship between sustainable modes of interaction and user drop-off rates. Through analysing the mindful (or not-so-mindful) characteristics of leading digital products, such as Slack, Medium, and Pokemon Go, alongside interviewing relevant experts, and analysing existing research, we developed a series of nine principles, which speak across all levels of an organisation, from mission, through company culture, to product design itself. 
 

  1. Value Human Attention. 
    Recognise that any attention-based product impacts wellbeing.
     
  2. Be Honest About Dark Patterns. 
    Stop tricking your users, and make it easier for them to make their own choices.
     
  3. Respect Information Zones.
    Develop sustainable modes of communication between your products and users.
     
  4. Prioritise Quality. 
    Focus on producing and encouraging high quality, distraction-free content.
     
  5. Discourage Addictive Usage. 
    Stop cultivating FOMO as a way to establish and maintain unhealthy addictions.
     
  6. Provide Exit Points. 
    Promote a calm experience by providing a sense of completion and giving users an option to disengage.
     
  7. Minimize Social Anxiety. 
    Fix the design decisions which are making people feel bad about themselves.
     
  8. Establish Holistic Metrics. 
    Create ways of measuring success which incorporate more than just the bottom line.
     
  9. Apply Principles Company Wide. 
    Let every part of the organisation play a role in supporting wellbeing.
     

Alongside each principle we produced a communicative artefact, to demonstrate how these principles might be applied in real world scenarios. For example:

5 - Discourage Addictive Usage.jpg
2-  Dark Patterns.jpg

To find out more visit the project website www.designingmindfulness.com, read Mindfulness Everywhere’s Medium article about the project, or download the full project process journal.